Giving up booze for Lent
As I hinted in my last post, I have gone dry for Lent. I am not doing this for religious reasons -- so why? Two reasons...
First of all, I want to make sure I can do it. According to the government guidelines, I drink too much. I'm pretty sceptical about the guidelines. Where did they come from? And who actually decided how much was too much, and on what basis? And who invented this word "unit", which seemed to spring from nowhere sometime in my 40s? All the same, I'm pretty clear that if I couldnt do without the demon drink for a self-imposed month a year, then I'd have problems. So it's a checkout against alcoholism, I guess.
Second, I am sure it must be good for me, and for my hardworking liver. The stuff is poison after all, so a break from it is bound to be restorative. Detox basically.
Why in Lent, if not for religion? Well because there is a supportive culture of abstinence around in Lent that makes it a bit easier. That means you can go to a party and say you're not drinking because it's Lent, and no-one will say "Oh go on, just one". They might think, "I didn't know SHE was religious", but they won't force a glass of Pinot Grigio into your hand.
So is it easy? And do I feel better?
In fact -- a few really tough days apart -- it isn't quite as hard as you might imagine. And it teaches you how much drinking is sheer habit. Between about 6.30 and 7.30, yes it's a struggle. That first glass of wine of the evening is hard to resist (and ginger beer doesn't hit the same spot). But once that hour has gone, and even more when supper's over, the desire has more or less dried up. (I know it's habit because I find the same thing at lunchtime of Sunday, but on no other day of the week.. and that cant be physiology.) So that's good news really.
The problem is that I don't actually feel any different, or better. In fact, overall I feel rather less healthy. The point is that first much missed glass of wine is a 'change of gear' glass. It's not that I dont work more or less every evening (the don doesnt have much of a LIFE at the moment), but after a drink and some food, it's at a different tempo and with a slightly different agenda (reading manuscripts, making power points, writing minutes, and so on). Without that change of gear, I find I just go on and on and on in exactly the same gear .... until it comes to 2 o'clock or so and I decide I have to go to bed (the other good thing about drink is that it means I tend to feel quite tired by 12.30...). Abstinence, in other words, leads to obsessional single mindedness and over-drive, which I think long term might be as bad for me as the booze.
Anyway, we're one week in; just over 5 more to go. The truth is that unlike good Christians, I tend to hit the bottle again on Maundy Thursday. It makes for a riotous Easter.